Garden Lets Some Residents Return To Roots

Provided by Journal & Topics

Journal & Topics Reporter

Peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes and more are already sprouting this season at the Rosemont Community Garden. Tucked behind the Rosemont Recreation Center at 7128 Barry St., 71 plots of land are carefully tended by community members growing their own produce each day.

“They come here everyday, even if they don’t have to water, just to see progress,” said Alex Perez, Recreation Center supervisor. “It’s crazy how much the plants grow.”

He said there is an initial morning rush, but the busiest hours are between 4 and 8 p.m., with up to 12 people gardening at once.

Registration for this year’s plots opened the first week of April, and the spaces quickly filled up. The garden opened the second week of April and will remain open through September.

Even those in the community without a plot are welcome to visit the garden as long as they follow the one rule: do not take anyone else’s produce.

The recreation center opened the space back in 2013 with 10 plots. As the years went by, interest in the garden continued to grow, and the space expanded to include nearly six dozen 4-ft.-by-4-ft. plots.

“We talked about it a few years back,” said Perez. The staff thought it would be a good way to promote healthier lifestyles in the community and received an approximately $2,500 grant from Darden restaurant group to purchase initial materials for the garden.

The Rosemont Park District takes responsibility for any necessary upkeep in the garden, such as replacing worn down wooden slats and providing dirt.

Over the years, Perez said the most unusual plants he has seen are a squash that grew to 4 feet and nearly 12-foot tall corn stalks.

“I didn’t know that was possible here,” he said.

Many of the gardeners are parents, and all but one are Hispanic. Perez said a lot of the neighborhood residents using the garden come from farming backgrounds or communities.

“This kind of brings back some of the old memories,” he said. “It keeps them in touch with their roots.”

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